Manchester United have made it through the Group Stage of the Champions League. They’ve not done it convincingly and to say the United philosophy has been lost to many is an understatement.
We find ourselves continually comparing and contrasting to those teams gone by and with hundreds of millions spent in the last few years, rightly so.
It’s been many years since United had a world class side and it’s unlikely they’re going to pull up any trees this year.
Despite only 14 games gone the club are already 6/1 with bookies Ladbrokes to make the top four never mind the 500/1 for the league some bookmakers are offering.
United are priced at 40/1 with 888sport to win the Champions League and this is their only chance for a major trophy beyond the FA Cup and Mourinho does know how to do it.
Most betting offers are giving the club a 40/1 shot, but how does this team compare to the last winners of Europe’s finest competition?
United have been blessed with goalkeepers over the last decade and it’s very difficult to choose a better player between Edwin van der Saar and David de Gea.
It can perhaps be argued that de Gea just steals it here.
United’s defence is far from complete currently and few in history would come close to a centre half pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, never mind just at Old Trafford.
Patrice Evra remains one of United’s best at left back and Antonio Valencia or Ashley Young wouldn’t make it into the right back position ahead of Wes Brown either.
Luke Shaw perhaps has the potential to match Evra over time but overall defence is an area that desperately needs time and money over the coming years.
Back in 2008, the Champions League winning midfield consisted of Owen Hargreaves, Paul Scholes, Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo. It can perhaps be argued Paul Pogba can mix it with them on his day and perhaps even beyond. But it’s making that happen.
The combination of the quadruple provided much more balance than those of today and aside from Pogba, no players would make it into that foursome no matter how much money was spent.
Of course, football has moved on from four across the middle of the park, so you could potentially place Anthony Martial on the wing in place of Hargreaves but even that could be a disservice to the Canadian born midfielder.
Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez offered plenty of industry up top which Marcus Rashford certainly offers the current United team.
The young England star has plenty to learn, and certainly needs to improve his finishing to match Rooney and Tevez.
The same can be said of Martial. The talent is there but it’s incredibly difficult to compare them to two experienced players who consistently delivered across their careers.
It’s always difficult to compare previous teams to today, but the contrasts are exceptional and it’s fair to say things need to change drastically if United are going to reach the levels they once were, whether that be money spent, money spent or quite frankly, team spirit and winning mentality.